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Blood On The Tongue by Stephen Booth (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Series #3)

Blood on the Tongue is the third book by the British mystery author Stephen Booth. First, let me tell you that this is not a fast-paced story like we’re used to reading from American authors. In this respect it is a typical British mystery where the pace is very slow with lots of descriptions which in this case, I have to admit, are hauntingly beautiful. It is winter in Edendale, a fictional place in Peak District, and the author brings this time of the year to life vividly in front of our eyes.

The descriptions of places, situations, and people’s interactions are very well done and unlike with similar books where I flip the pages just to get to the juicy action part, here I found myself reading every single word (and it’s not thinnest of books either, let me tell you).

When you read this book you will realize that it’s easy to follow the plot even if you haven’t read anything by Stephen Booth before. Sure there are the characters like Ben Cooper and Diane Fry with a dynamic of their own going on, but it is easy to figure out their relationship.

Initially, the novel starts with 2 separate cases so to speak, two deaths. It is heavy winter and the Derbyshire’s E-Division has to deal with not only the snow, ice and freezing cold, but also a murder and a suicide. However just to make things more interesting Ben gets caught up in a historical case going back to WWII when a plane crashed in the area and apparently only one pilot escaped.

While the 3 cases are seemingly unrelated, as the story progresses we start to see a few connections, which will become quite apparent at the end. The author weaves the present and the past very well together in a story that is full of emotion and atmosphere, bringing in Ben’s personal life into the mix as well. While I don’t really know much about Ben’s past in the first two books, here he is trying to lead a more independent life by moving out of his family home into an apartment by himself.

It seems that for him this is a big decision, something that he is thinking about and balancing back and forth throughout the whole book.

Ben seems to have an interesting history with Diane Frey who in this installment is his boss. For some reason, Diane is rather antagonistic towards Ben and quite flippant too. I don’t know of their past together, but there seems to be an underlying tension that I can’t wait to explore by reading the first two books before this one and then continuing with the rest.  As the mystery series has currently 13 books, I have quite a few to catch up to, something that I’m really looking forward to.

All in all, Blood on the Tongue is a solid British mystery that I found myself enjoying while reading and even though the book is quite long, I read it in just a few afternoons. I found myself turning the pages not so much to see what comes next, but to explore the present and the past together with Ben Cooper.

I don’t know for how long, but right now the Kindle version of Blood on the Tongue is less than $3 (compared to the paperback version of close to $20). Also Black Dog, the very first book in the series right now is less than $1 for the Kindle edition. Again, I don’t know for long it will be so cheap, but I’m getting it, so I can start reading the series from the start.

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